“You have to understand, the relationship between a bishop and a priest. At your ordination, you take a vow to be obedient to him. He’s more than your boss, more than the CEO of your company. He has immense power over you. He can move you, freeze you out, bring you into the fold … he controls every aspect of your life”
None of the accusations against O’Brien have yet to be proved. His resignation stokes speculation but proves nothing.
The liberal press has been quick to jump on these revelations and to highlight O’Brien’s long and vocal opposition to LGBT rights. The Guardian writes:
“O’Brien…has been an outspoken opponent of gay rights, condemning homosexuality as immoral, opposing gay adoption, and most recently arguing that same-sex marriages would be “harmful to the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of those involved”. Last year he was named “bigot of the year” by the gay rights charity Stonewall”
With “inappropriate acts” in speech marks the whole affair has been reported with a wink wink approach to sexuality. The whiff of hypocrisy from a deeply conservative institution proved just too strong to resist for many on the left.
It goes without saying that his attitudes towards sexuality are archaic at best. The Cardinal didn’t win the award of ‘Bigot of the year’ for nothing.
This emphasis however misses the pertinent point regarding sexual abuse – it’s about power.
Sexual abuse often occurs because of an abuse of a power dynamic. The sexuality of the victim or the perpetrator is more often than not inconsequential.
By highlighting O’Brien’s staunch opposition to same sex marriage, the liberal media is playing into an idea that is used by the establishment that the problem is with the gays – not the unaccountable power structures.
“He controls every aspect of your life”
These words, more than anything else strikes me as hitting on the crux of the problem the Catholic Church faces.
The problem of course, is that by tackling these accountability issues, you also have to tackle vested interests.
This is just one of many challenges for the new Pope will face to bring the Catholic Church back from crisis point.